Han Solo, smuggler extraordinaire – or so he’d have you believe!
The charming and roguish smuggler has always had a heart of gold – not to mention a quick trigger finger – and to this day remains one the most-loved and respected characters in Star Wars history.
He’s the man young boys want to be, and the man who adult guys think they are – but what exactly do you know about the galaxy’s greatest smuggler?
Oh, also, spoiler for all of the sequel trilogy to follow, especially a couple The Rise of Skywalker spoilers about!
Han Shot First!
You knows we can’t talk about Han solo without talking about the most controversial thing Han Solo has ever done!
That’s right – Han shot first.
In the earlier version of A New Hope, Han shoots Greedo in the cantina under the table before Greedo even gets the chance to pop a shot off at Han.
However, George Lucas decided to change this part, having Greedo shoot (very badly) first in the 1997 Special Edition version – although this was later changed in the 2004 version which has both of them shoot at the same time.
Lucas felt that Han shooting first was a bit too much of a villainous move, making him a bit of a “cold-blooded killer.”
That said, his later editions did change it so it was more like the original, and he even got snapped wearing a “Han Shot First” t-shirt back in 2007.
The “who shot first” debate absolutely blew up the Star Wars fanbase – it was such a huge dispute that it even got its own Wikipedia page!
The whole incident was also referenced in Solo: A Star Wars Story, in the dramatic final standoff between Han and Beckett where Han shoots Beckett midsentence – something the writers confirmed was a deliberate reference with a shooting script even specifying “There can be no question that Han shoots first.”
The Empire grounded Han and stopped him flying.
No, they didn’t send him to his room without any dinner for being naughty.
In Solo: A Star Wars Story, we see Han join the Empire at the beginning, saying he’s going to be a pilot before we cut to the Battle of Mimban and see Han as an infantry soldier in the Imperial Navy.
So how did Han go from being a pilot to being a ground-bound grunt?
Well, in a deleted scene from Solo, we see Han crash-land his Tie Fighter before the scene cuts to him getting chewed out by the squadron’s Commodore who finds him guilty of insubordination and tells him he’s being sent to Mimban.
Han, ever the cocky rogue, replies “Oh, I thought that was gonna be way worse. And, roughly, when do you think I’ll be able to fly again, Commodore?”
The Commodore smiles, half to himself and half to Han, casually replying in that dry Imperial tone “Oh, we’ll have you flying again in no time”.
Cut to Han being catapulted through the air by an explosion on Mimban. Not quite the type of flying he was hoping for I imagine…
Han Solo was married when he met Leia.
Now, I know they didn’t exactly get together until at least Episode VI, but before then you can’t deny the mutual attraction and flirtatious nature between the smuggler and the princess.
We can give Leia a free pass for this, she was single, but Han Solo… well, he was married.
In Issue 6 of Marvel’s Star Wars main comic (set between Episodes IV & V), Han and Leia crash-land on a beautiful, idyllic world whilst fleeing the Empire.
They decide to stay there for a while to hide from the pursuing Ties and for a moment it looks like romance may be blossoming between the two.
And then, out of nowhere, a non-Imperial ship cuts through the planet’s atmosphere and starts blasting at them.
The ship lands, and a hooded lady steps down from the ramp claiming to be Han Solo’s wife. Needless to say, Leia is raging!
The captain of the ship and a gunslinger on Han’s level, Sana Starros, kicks off a bit of a fuss because Han – in a truly unsurprising Han-style – has ripped Sana off and she wants her credits.
Over the course of the next few issues we find out that Han and Sana married each other as cover for a dope heist job they were pulling, and that Han had split with her part of the cut.
In classic Star Wars fashion, the two make up after fighting some bucketheads and Sana becomes an ally of the rebellion – warming especially to Princess Leia.
At the end of this story arc she tells a very relieved Leia that her marriage with Han was fake, and only part of the job.
Han Solo’s pants had something called a Corellian Bloodstripe.
In the gulf between Lucas’ original 1977 space epic, and Disney buying the rights to Star Wars, there was a whole host of things explored in the expanded universe (which Disney axed upon buying the Star Wars rights).
If you’ve ever met a hardcore Star Wars fan, then you’ll know we pour over every little bit of detail and that every bit of it gets given a backstory. One such bit of needless but interesting backstory was that of Han’s trousers.
Yup. His pants had a backstory.
Down the side of Han’s pants is a yellow bit of piping. This is known as a Corellian Bloodstripe, and Han’s was a second-class Bloodstripe – although he earned his first-class eventually.
These Bloodstripes were given by the Corellian military forces for acts of outstanding bravery – kinda like the Victoria Cross or Medal of Honor.
Han Solo was a terrible dad.
When we look at the shiny, beautiful Millennium Falcon in Solo, and then look at the dirty, bits-falling-off bucket-of-bolts it is in A New Hope, it should come as no surprise that Han Solo was basically an awful father.
If he loved the Falcon that much and that’s how he treated it, then how badly did he treat his son?
Well, first off, we have to cut Han a bit of slack. Ben Solo was a damn scary child. Being naturally gifted in The Force, Ben displayed the ability to powerfully wield The Force very early on in his life – kinda like Baby Yoda from The Mandalorian.
However, kids don’t really tend to understand the difference between good and bad too well, and young Ben would often throw temper tantrums as a young child where he’d crush everything around him, or rip buildings to pieces.
Understandably, this scared the hell out of Han, who was very eager to ship young Ben off to Uncle Luke for some Jedi training.
Han truly did fear there was too much Vader in Ben, even at such a young age, and didn’t want life under the Empire to be recreated with Ben at the helm.
On one instance, Ben overheard Han saying he could end up being a “monster” – something that affected him deeply and something that, sadly, ended up becoming true.
But, as we saw in The Rise of Skywalker, Ben eventually proved his father and all his other critics wrong, turning to the Light in one final act of Vader-esque self-sacrifice.
Han and the Falcon both became famous after their Kessel Run.
Oh boy does Han love bragging about that Kessel Run!
“It’s the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs!”
But if a parsec is a unit of distance, not time, how exactly does one do a Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs…?
Well, as we saw in Solo, Han was able to make the Kessel Run shorter by flying perilously close to The Maw black hole cluster, shortening the distance to 11.5 parsecs rather than the standard 12 and losing a few bits of the Falcon along the way!
As one of the most-used smuggler’s routes in the Star Wars galaxy, the Kessel Run requires pilots to be extremely skilled due to all the nebulas, asteroids and black holes that form it.
So, when Han brags about doing the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, you can believe he’s bragging about his skills as well as his ship!
Han Solo was originally an alien Jedi.
In the May 1974 draft of the original Star Wars script, Han Solo was a Ureallian – a huge hulking green-skinned monster with large gills and no nose.
He was also a member of the Jedi Bendu, a sort of early draft of the Jedi Order, and was good friends with General (Luke) Skywalker.
However, over time Lucas decided to make Han more of a “tough James Dean style starpilot […] a cowboy in a starship – simple, sentimental and cocksure of himself.”
George changed Han to be human so that the three main (human) characters could develop a closer relationship, with Chewie stepping in to take the place of the alien sidekick.
Han Solo’s most iconic line was improvised.
Leia: “I love you.”
Han: “I know.”
We all know that this is by far one of Han Solo’s coolest moments – however it was something completely unscripted.
In the initial script, Leia was supposed to say “I love you. I couldn’t tell you before, but it’s true” which Han was supposed to follow up with “Just remember that, ‘cause I’ll be back.”
However, this was changed so that Leia simply just said “I love you” with Han still having the same comeback. After a chat with Irvin Kershner, director of Episode V, Harrison Ford thought it’d be better that Han just says “I know” which Kershner and everyone else loved.
During the filming of the original Star Wars in 1977, it was no secret that Harrison Ford wasn’t a fan of George Lucas’ script – having said to Lucas “you can type this [trash] but you sure can’t say it” which led to him improvising a lot of his lines.
Including the part during the prisoner breakout scene on the Death Star when he answers down the com-line:
“Uh, had a slight weapons malfunction. But, uh, everything’s perfectly all right now. We’re fine. We’re all fine here, now, thank you. How are you?”
Harrison Ford didn’t even bother learning the lines for this bit and just waxed all that stuff on the spot himself!
Young Han nearly appeared in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
There have been a lot of concepts of a young Han Solo that almost found their way into the Star Wars canon prior to Solo: A Star Wars Story’s release.
Some of the film’s early-early scripts featured young Han during the film’s Kashyyyk segments, as a human living amongst the native Wookie population.
He was even supposed to have an interaction with Yoda and Wookie chieftains Tarfful and Chewbacca where he had discovered part of transmitter droid in the prelude to the Battle of Kashyyyk.
However, this part was written out although the concept was somewhat recycled for the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated TV show, with Jaybo Hood being created as a sort of hybrid between a young Anakin and a young Han.
Little bit of context, Jaybo was a 10-year old kid living on a moon where he’d reprogrammed a battalion of battle droids to be his servants, clean up after him and bring him snacks and stuff. Legend.
Harrison Ford wanted Han to die in Episode VI.
Despite being Ford’s breakout role in A New Hope, he was one of (if not the only) strongest advocates for the smuggler meeting his end along with the original trilogy.
Whilst quite a few people have said Ford wanted his on-screen counterpart to meet his end because he was “bored” of Han, that isn’t true. Rather, he wanted the morally ambiguous smuggler to meet a heroic end with a grand sacrifice.
This is something Han got in the first Episode of the Sequel Trilogy on Starkiller Base at the hands of his son, Ben Solo/Kylo Ren. Talking about Han’s death in Episode VII, Ford said:
“I think it’s a fitting use of the character. I’ve been arguing for Han Solo to die for about 30 years, not because I was tired of him or because he’s boring, but his sacrifice for the other characters would lend gravitas and emotional weight.”
And I can’t help but agree with him – RIP Han Solo, you will be sorely missed!